Oilers Hold Off Canucks in Game 7, Advance to Western Conference Final

Oilers Hold Off Canucks in Game 7, Advance to Western Conference Final
Nils Hoglander of the Vancouver Canucks can only watch as defenseman Evan Bouchard celebrates an Edmonton Oilers goal in Game 7 of a second-round Stanley Cup playoff series in Vancouver, Canada on May 20, 2024. (Bob Frid/USA TODAY via Field Level Media)
Field Level Media
5/21/2024
Updated:
5/21/2024
0:00

VANCOUVER, Canada—The high-flying Edmonton Oilers needed every bit of another side of their game to survive a nail-biting finish Monday night that lifted them into the NHL’s Western Conference final.

The Oilers hung on to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 3–2 in Game 7 of a second-round Stanley Cup playoff series at Rogers Arena, and advanced to face the Dallas Stars in the NHL’s final four. The Western Conference final will begin Thursday night in Dallas.

Down 3–2 in the series entering the weekend, Edmonton pushed it to the distance with a dominant 5–1, home-ice victory in Game 6 on Saturday before riding a three-goal second period to the Game 7 win.

Led by offensive superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers had to rely on their defense to get the job done. Edmonton surrendered only 17 shots on goal in the deciding game, none after the Canucks scored two third-period goals to pull within 3–2 with 4:36 remaining.

“We defended well. We played two really good games,” McDavid told Canadian broadcaster Sportsnet. “Our backs were against the wall, and we responded. I’m really proud of the group.”

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and an assist to lead the Oilers offensively, while defenseman Cody Ceci and Zach Hyman also scored goals, and goaltender Stuart Skinner stopped 15 shots. Defenseman Evan Bouchard collected two assists and Leon Draisaitl added a helper, giving him at least one point in all 12 of Edmonton’s postseason games this year.

The Stars represent the next challenge for the Oilers in what they have described as a “Cup-or-bust” season.

“We know they are a deep team,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “That’s in a few days. We'll process this and move on to them.”

The Stars finished in first place in the Western Conference during the regular season.

“They’re as deep a team as you’re going to find in the NHL,” McDavid said. “They’re a great test, but we’re looking forward to it. ... We’re a deep team, too.”

With the Canucks down 3–0 entering the third period, Conor Garland and defenseman Filip Hronek responded with goals to make a game of it. Goaltender Arturs Silovs stopped 26 shots for Vancouver, which had missed the playoffs in three consecutive seasons before finishing atop the Pacific Division with a 50-win campaign this year.

“They put respect back into this city and this jersey,” Coach Rick Tocchet said of his players. “Fans have got something to be proud about. That’s because of the players.”

The Canucks were without top goal scorer Brock Boeser in Game 7 because of blood-clotting issues, and it certainly impacted the club. Vancouver failed to even register a single shot on goal during a late four-minute power play in the first period.

After a scoreless first period that saw the Oilers outshoot the Canucks 13–2, Ceci opened the scoring 76 seconds into the second period with a top-corner point shot for his second goal of the playoffs.

Hyman doubled the lead at 5:50 of the middle frame by deflecting Bouchard’s point shot for his 11th marker of the postseason, and Nugent-Hopkins notched a power-play tally at 15:22, just as the Canucks finally seemed to be gaining some momentum. The goal was Nugent-Hopkins’ fourth of the playoffs.

Vancouver had posted a few thrilling comebacks and came close to another. After Garland put the Canucks on the board with 8:33 remaining in regulation, scoring his third goal of the playoffs, Hronek’s first career playoff goal made it a one-goal game at 15:24. Vancouver, however, could not drum up the equalizer.

“Hard-fought game,” Canucks forward J.T. Miller said. “Hard-fought series. We were a bounce away.”